ARTPIL Profiles of the Arts
Invisible Cities
Through May 4, 2018 / Waddington Custot

Gego

Waddington Custot is pleased to present Invisible Cities, curated by Flavia Frigeri. Taking its title from Italo Calvino’s novel, Invisible Cities (Le Città Invisibili), this exhibition brings together an international group of artists who, in different ways, explore concepts of the ideal city and discover the necessary coexistence of the real and the imagined. The exhibition includes drawing, painting and sculpture by Giorgio de Chirico, Fausto Melotti, Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, Gego, Shusaku Arakawa, Giulio Paolini and Tomás Saraceno.

Calvino’s Invisible Cities, published in 1972, imagines a fictional conversation between the Venetian explorer Marco Polo and Kublai Khan, the 13th century ruler of the Mongol Empire. Polo describes a series of wondrous cities which are geographically unspecific, yet imbued with glimpses of reality.

In the exhibition, the closest literal reference to a city is found in the ‘metaphysical’ cityscapes of Giorgio de Chirico (b. 1888, Volos, Greece; d. 1978, Rome, Italy). Calvino described de Chirico’s dream-like setting as a ‘city of the mind’; the steep perspective of an Italianate portico becomes surreal, surrounded by awkward shadows and melancholic skies.

Alternately, the lyrical, metal sculptures of Fausto Melotti (b. 1901, Rovereto, Italy; d. 1986, Milan, Italy) embodied, for Calvino, his most abstract cities. Calvino met Melotti while writing Le città invisibili and Melotti’s sculpture became central to Calvino’s description of his ‘thin city’. The writer saw in these sculptures the stripped back, essential core of modernist architecture. In Calvino’s words, Melotti’s sculptures realised what a utopian city could be: ‘cities on stilts, spider web cities’. The artist was presented with a copy of Invisible Cities, inscribed by the author, ‘For Fausto Melotti, the thin cities and all the others in this book, which [are] also yours…’

 

Maria Helena Vieira da Silva

Maria Helena Vieira da Silva

Maria Helena Vieira da Silva

In the paintings of Maria Helena Vieira da Silva (b. 1908, Lisbon, Portugal; d. 1992, Paris, France) the physical architecture of the cityscape is splintered. She used ‘floating’ lines to draught architectural skeletons and achieved a profound illusion of space. She noted, ‘I want to paint what is not there as though it existed.’ As Polo recalled cities from memory, so Vieira da Silva’s imagined structures and landscapes were constantly shifting, as distant recollections.

Gego (b. 1912, Hamburg, Germany; d. 1994, Caracas, Venezuela), in a series of Drawings without Paper, ‘liberated’ line from the constraints of two-dimensions. Her drawings describe true volume and space. Gego trained and worked as an architect, but her sculpture went beyond prescribed ideas of structure and the urban to more ethereal and abstract forms, linear environments hanging in space.

 

Shusaku Arakawa / Fausto Melotti

Structure described through a reduction to the essential line is central to Calvino’s thought and this exhibition. Of the work of Shusaku Arakawa (b. 1936, Nagoya, Japan; d. 2010, New York City, USA), Calvino wrote, ‘…lines belong to bundles of lines which may have a common point of departure or else may converge in a point, in which case they create perspectives.’ Maps, floorplans, and diagrams of three-dimensional structures feature prominently in Arakawa’s painting from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. Then, working with poet and philosopher Madeline Gins, he redirected his energies to ‘reversible destiny architecture’, a term coined by them to describe an idealistic, utopian architecture. Arakawa’s drawings in this exhibition are from his transitional period, when he was beginning to think about the potential of architecture.

 

Giulio Paolini

Giulio Paolini (b. 1940, Genoa, Italy) and Calvino maintained a close relationship. The two were united by a common interest in the space of the mind and its representation. While Calvino approached it from a narrative perspective Paolini questioned it visually. Their exchange was premised on conceptual grounds and it brought to the fore how space could be envisioned and mapped. In this exhibition the notion of mental space will be explored in connection with the idea of imagined city.

 

Tomás Saraceno

Calvino’s ‘spider web’ city swings over an abyss, tied with ropes to two mountain tops, its precarious situation opposing gravity. Parallels can be drawn with Tomás Saraceno’s (b. 1973, San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina) prototypes for floating cities. His hanging sculptures, including ‘IC 4970/M+W’ (2016) in the exhibition, are part of his long-term research project, Cloud Cities, which aims to develop a ‘modular and transnational city in the clouds’ that represents a model for sustainable and emancipatory building practices.

 

Invisible Cities / Architecture of Line
Through May 4, 2018 / Waddington Custot
For more information please visit the exhibition page >

Recent Articles
Blue Sweep / Andrew Moore
Through Feb 9, 2019 / Yancey Richardson Gallery
Following the explorations of the economically ravaged city of Detroit and the…
Following the explorations of the economically ravaged city of Detroit and the mythic high plains region along the…
ARTPIL / Prescription .075
December is the cruelest month
We are approaching the year’s end with the holiday season already around…
We are approaching the year’s end with the holiday season already around us. Welcome to the .075th edition…
Bauhaus & Photography
Through Mar 10, 2019 / NRW-Forum
Bauhaus not only played a key role in the history of 20th…
Bauhaus not only played a key role in the history of 20th Century design and art, but also…
Blood in My Milk / Marianna Simnett
Through Jan 6, 2019 / MMK Frankfurt
Unadulterated purity and beauty face impending invasion and sickness. Within the protective…
Unadulterated purity and beauty face impending invasion and sickness. Within the protective zone, however, the body takes on…
Peter Bialobrzeski – The City / Urban Spaces
Through Jan 19, 2019 / Foto Forum
Photographer Bialobrzeski portrays human habitats just as the elder artist portrayed members…
Photographer Bialobrzeski portrays human habitats just as the elder artist portrayed members of the clergy, personages from history,…
Project Iceworm / Anastasia Mityukova
Dec 13, 2018 – Jan 27, 2019 / Museum Folkwang
In Project Iceworm, Mityukova takes a look at the tumultuous history of…
In Project Iceworm, Mityukova takes a look at the tumultuous history of the town of Thule in Greenland…
50 Years / 50 Artists
Through Dec 21, 2018 / Annely Juda
Celebrating 50 years since the gallery’s establishment as Annely Juda Fine Art…
Celebrating 50 years since the gallery’s establishment as Annely Juda Fine Art in 1968, the exhibition will feature…
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
70 year Anniversary
Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights…
Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human…
Invisible Cities
Through May 4, 2018 / Waddington Custot

Gego

Waddington Custot is pleased to present Invisible Cities, curated by Flavia Frigeri. Taking its title from Italo Calvino’s novel, Invisible Cities (Le Città Invisibili), this exhibition brings together an international group of artists who, in different ways, explore concepts of the ideal city and discover the necessary coexistence of the real and the imagined. The exhibition includes drawing, painting and sculpture by Giorgio de Chirico, Fausto Melotti, Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, Gego, Shusaku Arakawa, Giulio Paolini and Tomás Saraceno.

Calvino’s Invisible Cities, published in 1972, imagines a fictional conversation between the Venetian explorer Marco Polo and Kublai Khan, the 13th century ruler of the Mongol Empire. Polo describes a series of wondrous cities which are geographically unspecific, yet imbued with glimpses of reality.

In the exhibition, the closest literal reference to a city is found in the ‘metaphysical’ cityscapes of Giorgio de Chirico (b. 1888, Volos, Greece; d. 1978, Rome, Italy). Calvino described de Chirico’s dream-like setting as a ‘city of the mind’; the steep perspective of an Italianate portico becomes surreal, surrounded by awkward shadows and melancholic skies.

Alternately, the lyrical, metal sculptures of Fausto Melotti (b. 1901, Rovereto, Italy; d. 1986, Milan, Italy) embodied, for Calvino, his most abstract cities. Calvino met Melotti while writing Le città invisibili and Melotti’s sculpture became central to Calvino’s description of his ‘thin city’. The writer saw in these sculptures the stripped back, essential core of modernist architecture. In Calvino’s words, Melotti’s sculptures realised what a utopian city could be: ‘cities on stilts, spider web cities’. The artist was presented with a copy of Invisible Cities, inscribed by the author, ‘For Fausto Melotti, the thin cities and all the others in this book, which [are] also yours…’

 

Maria Helena Vieira da Silva

Maria Helena Vieira da Silva

Maria Helena Vieira da Silva

In the paintings of Maria Helena Vieira da Silva (b. 1908, Lisbon, Portugal; d. 1992, Paris, France) the physical architecture of the cityscape is splintered. She used ‘floating’ lines to draught architectural skeletons and achieved a profound illusion of space. She noted, ‘I want to paint what is not there as though it existed.’ As Polo recalled cities from memory, so Vieira da Silva’s imagined structures and landscapes were constantly shifting, as distant recollections.

Gego (b. 1912, Hamburg, Germany; d. 1994, Caracas, Venezuela), in a series of Drawings without Paper, ‘liberated’ line from the constraints of two-dimensions. Her drawings describe true volume and space. Gego trained and worked as an architect, but her sculpture went beyond prescribed ideas of structure and the urban to more ethereal and abstract forms, linear environments hanging in space.

 

Shusaku Arakawa / Fausto Melotti

Structure described through a reduction to the essential line is central to Calvino’s thought and this exhibition. Of the work of Shusaku Arakawa (b. 1936, Nagoya, Japan; d. 2010, New York City, USA), Calvino wrote, ‘…lines belong to bundles of lines which may have a common point of departure or else may converge in a point, in which case they create perspectives.’ Maps, floorplans, and diagrams of three-dimensional structures feature prominently in Arakawa’s painting from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. Then, working with poet and philosopher Madeline Gins, he redirected his energies to ‘reversible destiny architecture’, a term coined by them to describe an idealistic, utopian architecture. Arakawa’s drawings in this exhibition are from his transitional period, when he was beginning to think about the potential of architecture.

 

Giulio Paolini

Giulio Paolini (b. 1940, Genoa, Italy) and Calvino maintained a close relationship. The two were united by a common interest in the space of the mind and its representation. While Calvino approached it from a narrative perspective Paolini questioned it visually. Their exchange was premised on conceptual grounds and it brought to the fore how space could be envisioned and mapped. In this exhibition the notion of mental space will be explored in connection with the idea of imagined city.

 

Tomás Saraceno

Calvino’s ‘spider web’ city swings over an abyss, tied with ropes to two mountain tops, its precarious situation opposing gravity. Parallels can be drawn with Tomás Saraceno’s (b. 1973, San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina) prototypes for floating cities. His hanging sculptures, including ‘IC 4970/M+W’ (2016) in the exhibition, are part of his long-term research project, Cloud Cities, which aims to develop a ‘modular and transnational city in the clouds’ that represents a model for sustainable and emancipatory building practices.

 

Invisible Cities / Architecture of Line
Through May 4, 2018 / Waddington Custot
For more information please visit the exhibition page >